Alexander poll says senior senator leads Carr 4-to-1

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander might have attracted more than half-a-dozen contenders in his bid for reelection, but his recent polling suggests that hasn’t put a dent in his chances for the August GOP primary.

A survey of 600 likely Republican primary voters in Tennessee found 56 percent of voters favor Alexander, compared to 14 percent for his leading contender, state Rep. Joe Carr, according to a memo obtained by the Nashville Post. Other candidates garnered 2 percent or less of the vote, according to the memo by North Star Opinion Research President Whit Ayres. Another 22 percent are undecided.

“The campaign looks essentially the same today as it did in August of 2013 and February of this year,” wrote Ayres in a memo to Alexander’s campaign finance chairman Steve Smith.

The firm’s last survey in February showed Alexander leading Carr 62 percent to 17 percent, with 18 percent undecided and 2 percent for Brenda Lenard and 1 percent for Danny Page. Since then, the contest has attracted seven total GOP challengers who were all factored into the recent polling. The firm conducted the survey May 12 through 14 and all respondents said they were likely or certain to vote in the Republican primary election.

Carr’s campaign suggested the release of the numbers shows the Alexander campaign is nervous.

“After seeing what happened this week in Nebraska, it’s not surprising that Senator Alexander and his campaign are very worried about the threat that Joe Carr and Tennessee conservatives pose to his re-election,” said Donald Rickard, a spokesman for Carr’s campaign, pointing to a conservative Republican taking the nomination for U.S. Senate and another falling short by 6 percentage points for Congress. “Why else would he release numbers this early? As this campaign unfolds and Joe invests in informing Tennessee voters about Sen. Alexander’s support for Common Core, the bail-out of Wall Street and amnesty — the environment surrounding this race will shift significantly."

Below is an excerpt from the North Star Opinion Research memo:

1. Senator Alexander holds at least a 4-to-1 lead over any Republican primary opponent. Alexander stands at 56 percent in a full ballot test, compared to 14 percent for Joe Carr, no more than 2 percent each for the six other opponents, and 22 percent undecided.

2. Senator Alexander’s opponents remain unknown to the overwhelming majority of Republican primary voters. Sixty-seven percent of primary voters have never heard of Joe Carr, almost identical to the 70 percent who had never heard of him in February. Eighty-four percent have never heard of Fred Anderson, 85 percent have never heard of George Shea Flinn, 91 percent have never heard of John D. King, 92 percent have never heard of Christian Agnew, 93 percent have never heard of Brenda S. Lenard, and 95 percent have never heard of Erin Kent Magee.

3. Senator Alexander continues to hold high job approval ratings across the state and among key subgroups of the primary electorate. Statewide Alexander’s job approval is 66 to 28 percent, including 70 to 22 percent in East Tennessee, 61 to 36 percent in Middle Tennessee, and 64 to 26 percent in West Tennessee. Strong Republicans approve of his job performance by 72 to 22 percent, as do evangelical Christians by 65 to 27 percent, and very conservative voters by 62 to 33 percent.